In 2014, a team with a Toyota 86 set a record for the world’s longest drift totaling 89.5 miles. For those of you not familiar with drifting, it is where the driver intentionally oversteers in order to lose traction to the rear wheels and maintain control while the car slides through a turn. BMW set a drifting record the year before and were determined to stay on top. The original record-setter for BMW, Johan Schwartz, returned to the track in promotion of the 2018 BMW M5 and completely obliterated the Toyota 86 record. The new record Schwartz slid into was a whopping 232.5 miles over an eight-hour period. The tough part beyond controlling the car in a drift for that long, was the thirsty 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine was going to need to re-fuel within the drift. In order to implement the refill, Matt Butts from Detroit Speed hung outside of the window in another vehicle with a fuel supplying line to fill the M5 five separate times.
Creating a Proper Drift Car
The ideal drift set up is a vehicle that has a manual transmission and is equipped with rear-wheel drive. Then begin the modifications. Installing a new seat (for drifters, often referred to as a “bucket” seat) helps you maintain a comfortable and secure position. Most “bucket” or racing seats sit lower in the vehicle and have a harness seat belt. You will realize rather quickly that suspension is a crucial upgrade. Your stock suspension system is not meant to maintain your vehicle in a sideways position so you will feel more resistance when trying to hold a drift position. An aftermarket suspension with a combination of uprated shocks and high damping rated lowering springs will do the trick. Next comes a limited slip differential (LSD). The LSD is designed to keep power to both wheels while you are in a drift and therefore help to maintain control. The LSD sits between your two back wheels. When you begin drifting rather regularly, having extra tires will be an important piece to your inventory. It is up to you if you would rather build a collection of used tires as a cheaper route or invest in quality tires. Better quality tires will help you as a beginner as they offer a longer life and better grip. An aftermarket handbrake (a.k.a. “E-brake”) is not a crucial addition but is useful to help initiate and control a drift. A drifting handbrake is often a straight piece of metal with a grip on the end that extends upwards, close to the height of your steering wheel for easy access. Lastly, a roll cage is another feature that is not crucial but adds to the safety of your vehicle. Just as the name implies, a roll cage will help maintain your vehicle’s structure if you flip or roll your car, protecting you and your drifting investment.
BMW’s Self-Driving Vehicle
In 2014, BMW was working on their autonomous driving technology on a modified 2-Series Coupe and 6-Series Gran Coupe equipped with a LIDAR system, 360-degree radar, ultrasonic sensors and cameras that track the environment. These vehicles can run through a high-speed slalom, perform precise lane changes and slide around corners without driver intervention. Did you catch that last part? These cars can drift without driver intervention. While we would argue that the fun part of drifting is controlling it yourself, these autonomous cars take action movies to a whole new level.
Let us Build Your Drift Car
Here at North Bay Bavarian, we have a passion for performance modifications on BMWs. As your Santa Rosa BMW specialists, the expert staff at North Bay Bavarian has a great knowledge of BMW performance accessories that open your world up to a variety of customization and performance options. We’ve built modified BMWs that have raced in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, NASA East and West Coast Championships, West Coast Spec E30 Series and have built drift cars that compete in Formula Drift all over North America. It’s always a good time to start a new project and we would love the opportunity to build out your dream BMW drifting machine. Give us a call at (707) 545-0820 and visit our race preparation page for more information.